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EU to start sending troops to Central African Republic next month

media Congolese soldiers from the MISCA peacekeeping force in the Central African Republic Reuters/Luc Gnago

Several European Union countries will start deploying troops to the Central African Republic next month, according to France’s junior minister for European affairs.

Thierry Repentin said “several hundred troops from several European Union countries” will hit the ground in a few weeks.

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, announced on Friday that the 28-member bloc planned to send 500 soldiers to the strife-torn country, with the possibility of doubling the number of troops, without giving a specific timeline.

France announced on the same day it will send an extra 400 soldiers, boosting troop numbers to 2,000. Around 5,400 African troops are also on the ground as part of an African Union-mandated peacekeeping force.

Besides France, five other European Union countries have proposed a "substantial" contribution to the EU mission.

Diplomats say Georgia, anxious to cement good ties with the EU, could also supply up to 100 soldiers.

Ashton has also approached Turkey for a contribution to the mission, a Turkish official said in Ankara on Sunday.

Spain is among other countries that may offer logistical, material or financial aid.

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